Framed (ref: 7005)
Watercolour over pen-and-ink on paper
Provenance: Private Collection
In this picture, Knights depicts herself (foreground centre) transferring potatoes into a traditional clam. This was one of many rural activities in which she participated while convalescing in Worcestershire during the war. Both the arrangement of background colours into a flattened patchwork quilt of contrasting colours and the frieze-like placing of foreground figures, would become favourite compositional devices, as would the use of motifs such as the ladder and haycocks.
Painter and draughtsman, born in London, married to the artist Walter Thomas Monnington. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1915-17 and 1918-20. Her teachers included Henry Tonks and Fred Brown and she personified the Slade School tradition under their reign. In 1919 she won the Slade Summer Composition Prize (for Mill Hands on Strike) and the following year the coveted Rome Scholarship. She remained in Rome 1920-25, marrying fellow Rome Scholar Thomas Monnington in April 1924. One of her principal works was The Marriage at Cana for the British School at Rome, now in the National Gallery of New Zealand in Wellington. The Tate Gallery also holds her work, including her iconic winning entry for the Rome Scholarship, The Deluge, 1919. Knights died in London at the age of 48.
Had Knights produced more during her relatively short life she might well today be considered among the major women painters of the twentieth century.
Selected literature: Paul Liss, Winifred Knights, The British School at Rome/Fine Art Society plc, 1995